Elizabeth Wreford-Smith grew up on her family’s fourth-generation cattle ranch in Kenya, surrounded by giraffes, elephants and lions. It was her great love of animals that brought her to Colorado State University – and the United States – for the very first time. This week, Wreford-Smith will graduate magna cum laude with her bachelor’s degree in equine sciences from the College of Agricultural Sciences.
“Growing up, I spent most of my time riding horses and reading books,” said Wreford-Smith. “I chose Colorado State University because it has one of the best equine sciences programs in the United States.”
She says her experience at CSU has been one of learning to believe in herself and knowing that if she really wants something, no matter how challenging it is, she can accomplish it through hard work.
She has enjoyed all of her classes, but microbiology has been her favorite. Jennifer McLean, assistant professor of Microbiology, Pathology and Immunology who teaches the course, has high praise for her, beyond her tremendous work ethic.
“Elizabeth is a highly motivated and engaged student who takes advantage of all the resources offered in my class,” said McLean. “She shows up every day to class as a friend and leader to her peers. She is a fearless and resilient student who will no doubt do great things for our planet and its people and animals.”
Wreford-Smith has been accepted to study at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Kosice, Slovakia, after graduation. There were definite factors that have led to the next step in her educational journey: her participation in CSU’s Pets Forever, a program that helps low-income elderly and disabled Larimer County residents maintain ownership of their pets for as long as possible; an internship this past summer at a veterinary clinic near her home in Kenya; and her advisor at CSU, Brett Kirch.
“Professor Kirch has been so supportive, I couldn’t have accomplished what I have without him,” said Wreford-Smith. “He believed in me when I didn’t. He’s the one who really encouraged me to continue my education and become a veterinarian.”
“Liz has been a total joy to work with as an advisee, a student in the classroom, and a teaching assistant,” said Kirch, assistant professor of Animal Sciences. “She is an amazing young woman with a work ethic that cannot be matched. She is proactive in her education and in her life experiences, always pushing the envelope and striving to learn more than is required by her classes. She is extremely good with her classmates and always there to help.”
After she receives her degree in veterinary medicine, Wreford-Smith plans to return to Kenya.
“We have limited health care, both human and animal, in Kenya,” said Wreford-Smith. “It’s my dream to go back and practice there.”
“I am so proud of her and the individual she has developed into,” Kirch added. “She will have a huge impact upon her country when she returns, representing her family, her country and Colorado State University well in the future. She’s truly is a gem, the complete package. It has been my privilege to work with her.”